Content curation – a manifesto

The phrase “content curator” was one I had to define in the glossary of my book. It seems now that content curator is an idea that others are writing about as well.

RJ Jacquez, Adobe product evangelist, tweeted a link to an article about Content Curation on the site Social Media Today titled “Manifesto for the Content Curator,” written By Rohit Bhargrava. In it, he describes his definition of a content curator: “A Content Curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online.”

manifestoflickrPhoto courtesy ingorr on flickr

I think that professional writers and technical writers should consider a move towards this role. We already search for and find the best content, sift through loads of content, discard poor content, and publish the most worthy content whenever a software release goes out. This description also sounds like something a content strategist would do as part of their analysis of the content.

What I found fascinating after the article had been out a few days was to read one of the comments, where the commentor seemed to think that tasks related to content curation should be automated. He referenced two sites that curate content by classifying it and rating it, mahalo.com and oneforty.com. He saw content curation as a great opportunity for software developers and entrepreneurs.

What do you think? I’m guessing my blog’s audience would protest mightily. Do you believe that content curation can be done by algorithms of rating and relevancy? Or should this job be reserved for specialists?

9 Comments

  • October 11, 2009 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    I think it depends on the content.

    For random ad-hoc content, a lot of which can be found on the internet, then yes, a level of computer driven automation can be helpful.

    But for specific information, in specialised industries (legal entities for example, or medical journal articles) then you need a level of applied knowledge that only a skilled person can bring.

    At the moment those industries have “indexers”, and I’d see that profession, as well as technical communcators, making the transition to this new role.

  • Cindy Pao
    October 12, 2009 - 7:08 am | Permalink

    I agree with Gordon – it just depends on the content. I can see an automated tool bringing together so much content that the results resemble search results on Yahoo! and Google.

    I think this role happens within companies, as well, and not just with web content.

    I have a project right now where there is a LOT of content, and we’re trying to evaluate that content and bring it together in a central location. Now I have another job title to add to my list!

  • October 12, 2009 - 7:26 am | Permalink

    Thanks guys – good point Gordon. I use automated services all the time, even Alltop matches that description to some degree.

    And Cindy, if you get a business card with “Content Curator” on it, send a copy to Rohit and he’ll send you a copy of his book, Personality Not Included. :)

  • Karen Kay
    October 12, 2009 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    I think there is too much information to curate it all by hand. It will have to be curated automatically, and our job is to make sure that that is done well.

  • Sreeraj
    October 12, 2009 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    Who will actually benefit from content curation? Who will decide which is the best and the most useful content? If it is automated, don’t you think the algorithm can miss good articles buried deep in the web?

  • Mike Austin
    October 12, 2009 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    So the issues seem to be quantity and quality. We need automated systems to deal with sorting through the volume of content and we need specialists with the ability to assign some sort of qualitative metric to the content. And there will always be that small percentage of content that the automated engines miss or mis-categorize that a human specialist will have to ferret out.

  • Karen Kay
    October 12, 2009 - 11:45 am | Permalink

    I think “that small percentage of content” will just be missing, because no one will have the time to ferret it out.

    I think Google Books is the best example of this future. (Where “best” means “most realistic”.)

  • Jack Busch
    December 3, 2009 - 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Love the idea. Glad someone has given it a name. I think this is just what we need to fight search engine spam. I think the social media pundits – the ones who always submit front page Diggs – are a prototype of what content curation will mean. It’s like we have come full circle – the Internet took the power out of the hands of the editorial elite and democratized publishing. Now, there is an overload of information and easy means for certain unscrupulous individuals to promote low quality content (i.e. Article submitters) so now there is a demand to again invert the power structure. The algorithims just aren’t doing it for us anymore – we need editors for the Internet.

  • Carrie Carolin
    December 6, 2009 - 2:28 pm | Permalink

    One of the challenges that content curators will face is the lack of copyright protection for the “sweat of the brow” in their compilations. It’s very difficult to protect your compilation of news, links, articles and compiled, carefully arranged data, and expensive to litigate when your niche directory is copied and stolen.

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